With the cost of dentistry in the US and Canada on the rise, many people are unable to afford the dental treatment they need. Even those with dental insurance cabn face high out-of-pocket costs for major work. Traveling to a dentist in Cancun, Mexico is one way to save hundreds or thousands of dollars on your dental bill, plus it's a great excuse for a vacation.
With dental work in Mexico costing as much as 80% less than in the US and Canada, it's clear why so many people are heading overseas for their treatment. But if you're considering getting treatment like dental implants in Cancun there are certain things you'll need to consider. You probably have a lot of questions about how to choose a dentist and how to prepare for your trip.
In this guide, you'll find lots of useful information about dental tourism in Cancun. We hope this helps you decide whether a dental vacation in Mexico is right for you.
Table of contents
Why travel to a dentist in Cancun?
Cancun welcomes around 5 million visitors a year and is rated the #3 top destination in Mexico for 2018, the #1 spot going to nearby Playa del Carmen. Not all of these visitors come to visit a dentist, of course, but a growing number are seeking cosmetic dentistry in Cancun.
Popular procedures include:
- Dental implants
- Teeth whitening
- Root canal work
There are a number of factors that make dental tourism in Cancun such an attractive prospect:
Even the best dental insurance policies rarely cover the full cost of dental restorations like crowns, bridges and dentures. They may pay out for a small proportion of the cost of dental implants, but cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening and veneers are usually excluded.
This leaves many Americans and Canadians unable to afford the treatment they really need for their teeth. But with Cancun dental prices offering savings of as much as 80% compared to average US prices, dental work becomes much more affordable.
It's the lower cost of living and high competition among dentists which help keep Cancun dental prices so low. In the following table you can see approximate costs for dental implants in Cancun and other procedures.
|Approx US price||Approx Cancun price|
|Single dental implant||$1,500 - $6,000||$800 - $2,300|
|Porcelain veneer||$500 - $2,500||$300 - $550|
|Root canal||$700 - $1,000||$200 - $500|
Other dental tourism hubs exist in Europe and Southeast Asia but for most North Americans, Mexico is the closest location for cheap dentistry. Those living near the border might travel to Los Algodones or Tijuana, but for those on the east coast it's quickest to catch a flight to Cancun.
With these flight times to Cancun, Mexico you can see how convenient it is to take the trip to save on dental work:
|Origin||Average direct flight time|
|New Orleans||1h 55m|
|New York||4h 10m|
|Washington, D.C.||3h 40m|
Of course, because Cancun is a tourism hot-spot in its own right, many dental patients take advantage of the chance to have a vacation at the same time. Playa del Carmen, 45 minutes south along the coast, and Progreso, a few hours west, are also good spots for a dental vacation.
Wherever you're searching for a dentist, you want the assurance that they work to high standards and with good quality materials. Although there are many excellent dentists in Cancun, there are also those who are less reputable. This is why it's so important to carefully research your choice rather than acting on a whim.
Do keep in mind that even the best dentists in Cancun may occasionally receive bad reviews. No dentist anywhere is perfect all the time and occasionally procedures do fail. It's up to you to decide which one you feel comfortable with.
Unless you speak very good Spanish, you'll probably want to find a dentist who speaks good English. Fortunately, most Cancun dental specialists who market their services to foreigners have an excellent grasp of English. Still, it's worth asking to speak directly to your dentist so you can check you're comfortable with their level of communication.
Preparing for your Cancun dental vacation
The first step for anyone considering getting dental work abroad should be research. When choosing a dentist you need to consider:
- Whether they specialize in the treatment you need
- How much experience they have
- Whether their work on former patients looks natural to you
- Their ability to communicate with you in English
- The location of the clinic
- What is included with your treatment package (e.g. airport pickups, accommodation, aftercare)
- Are you looking for a Mexican dental vacation that's all-inclusive?
- How long your work is guaranteed for
You should also read up on the procedure you're having – whether that's implants, crowns, veneers, teeth whitening, or something else. This will help prepare you for the treatment so you know what to expect and the kinds of questions to ask your dentist.
Being a popular vacation destination, Cancun has all kinds of accommodation to suit different budgets and needs. You can live it up at a five-star resort on the beach or stay somewhere less extravagant but more affordable.
Your dental clinic may provide accommodation as part of your package. You might even be able to find a Mexican dental vacation that's all-inclusive. Alternatively, they may offer their patients exclusive discounts on certain accommodations in Cancun. It's worth asking before you book anything yourself.
You'll need to plan your vacation around the type of dental work you need. Some people choose to have a few days to rest before their first dental visit; others prefer to get it out of the way on the first day. You might need to make several visits, and if you are having any lab work for bridges, crowns, veneers, etc. you will have to wait several days while your new teeth are prepared.
Be realistic about what you'll feel like doing during this time. If you have had an extraction or surgery like a bone graft or sinus lift, you might not want to hit the beach right away. If you have any kind of temporary teeth fitted, your dentist will probably advise you to stick to soft foods as well.
Money and payments
At some towns on the border like Los Algodones you can pay for everything in US dollars. When visiting a dentist in Cancun, however, you'll need to carry pesos with you – at least to pay for taxis, food and shopping.
Your hotel and dental clinic might accept payment in US dollars but you'll need to check in advance. Keep in mind that paying by card may incur transaction fees from both the vendor and your card provider. To avoid these, find out if you can pay in cash.
Bringing a companion
Especially if you're having major dental work involving surgery, it can be a good idea to have someone accompany you on your trip. They will be able to help you get back to your room to rest and ensure you have enough soft food on hand as you recover. If you experience any complications, they can also step in to help communicate with the dental clinic.
This does mean double the cost in airfares, food, and accommodation, but it can be worth it for the peace of mind. Plus, you'll have a friend or loved one to enjoy your vacation with.
Reviews of crowns, veneers & dental implants in Cancun
Reading Cancun dentist reviews should be an important part of your research. Your dentist will be happy to provide you with testimonials but you should also seek out independent reviews since dental clinics can be very selective of the patients they showcase.
Review sites and discussion forums are a good place to start. You can also search for video reviews which might give you a look inside the clinic.
June Penny has created a series of videos documenting her Cancun cosmetic dentistry experience spanning several years during which she got various types of dentures and implants. In the video below she gives some advice which is useful for anyone planning a dental vacation, particularly in Cancun.
In this blog post, full-time traveler Barbara describes her experience getting crowns and veneers with a dentist in Playa del Carmen, just south of Cancun.
Although Barbara was initially happy with the look of her new teeth, she has since experienced problems with several of her veneers. She went ahead with the treatment without really researching the dentist or what getting veneers involves. In hindsight, she says, she wouldn't get veneers again but would opt for crowns as a more permanent solution.
This just highlights the importance of researching not only your chosen dentist but also the procedure you are having. Otherwise, like Barbara, you could end up in the dentist's chair not realizing what is happening until it's too late.
We have a separate article featuring more reviews of dentists in Mexico and helpful advice for anyone considering a dental vacation.
If you're interested in getting dental work done in Cancun, remember to get your free quote to see how much you can save.